Setting a Vision for the Year Ahead

January 3, 2018 in
By Erin Pitera

Happy New Year, everyone! Back in December, we introduced a list of individual and organizational resolutions to carry us through 2018 and keep us focused on making ourselves a better, more effective company while helping others find ways to mindfully focus on improvement. Now that we’re into the new year, many of us are contemplating what we want to achieve over the next 12 months, for ourselves and for our organizations. When it comes to making meaningful and motivating resolutions, one crucial element is setting a clear vision of where you want to go.

In his book, Double, Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less, Cameron Herold states: “Everyone in your organization must focus on the same Vivid Vision, and that Vivid Vision must be in sharp focus. If you and your employees are not all seeing the exact same vision of what your company will look and feel like three years hence, there is no chance it will ever happen the way you see it in your mind today”.[1] This statement cuts to the core of the role leaders play in not only setting the vision, but creating a strong, clear, and compelling vision that inspires commitment and leads to progress.

As leaders, we hear about the importance of setting a vision all the time, but sometimes this can feel daunting. So whether you are setting a vision for an organization, a division, or a project, here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Look to the future and set the direction. When you put pen to paper, focus on describing in as much detail as you can what things will look like in the future. It doesn’t need to be a 25 page manifesto like in the movie Jerry Maguire, but a good vision is more than just a vision statement. It should describe various aspects of the organization in the future and set a clear direction forward so that employees can align their energy and their behavior to achieving the vision you have set.
  2. Inspire excitement and commitment. It’s not enough just to have a clear direction, a vision needs to be compelling and inspire commitment to the project, the team, the division or the organization. It needs to make people feel like they are part of something more – something bigger than themselves, so stretch yourself to think beyond boundaries and you will stretch your team to do the same.
  3. Produce powerful feelings and strong, clear images in the mind. A great vision needs to feel alive. Strong images that depict and represent your ideal state can go a long way. Being a hockey fan from Canada, one vision that I think does this well is that of the Ottawa Senators, an NHL hockey team in Canada. Their vision is to “Celebrate a Stanley Cup win in Hockey Country.” The vision they have created is all about picturing the celebration, the parade, the fanfare, the national pride, and they use these strong images to provide detail, color and richness so that every player and every employee of the team can picture the exact same future in their minds and feel the powerful emotions that will come with winning the Stanley Cup.
  4. Reflect culture and values. A good vision should also describe and reinforce key aspects of your culture and your values, especially those that are unique to your organization. You are trying to align behavior, and core valuesprovide a set of guidelines on the behaviors and the mindsets that will be needed in order to achieve your vision.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Remember the old adage: people need to hear things at least seven times before they take action. It’s not good enough for leaders to simply develop a powerful vision, you need to make sure it is clearly communicated to every employee in order to bring your vision to life and get the momentum you need to inspire change.

My final piece of advice is to keep in mind that the goal in writing your vision is to inspire people, so first you need to inspire yourself. That means writing your vision in a place that you feel energized and creative. If you haven’t written a vision before, why not make this your New Year’s resolution? Whether you are setting a vision for an organization, a division, or a project, head to the beach or to a cabin in the mountains, put pen to paper, and get the year off to an inspiring start!

[1] Herold, C. (2011). Double Double How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press.

About the Author: Meet FMPer Erin! When Erin isn’t leading FMP, she loves spending time with her family. Her favorite things include: hiking, camping, kayaking and enjoying Nats Games with her husband and her two young boys. She sports a rally cap when needed and can’t wait until spring training. Go Nats!

Photo of author and FMP employee Erin Pitera